Google Investigated by Korean Regulators for Unfair Trade

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Korean officials continue to crack down on Google, most recently raiding the Seoul office based on allegations of unfair trade, according to media reports.

The Korean Fair Trade Commission raided the Seoul office of Google Inc. in connection with accusations of unfair trade in South Korea’s mobile-search-engine market, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing “a person with direct knowledge of the matter.” 

The raid was the latest in a series of probes into Google’s operations globally.

“Tuesday’s raid was part of an investigation by the antitrust regulator into accusations by Korean portal operators NHN Corp. and Daum Communications Corp. that Google is limiting their access to smartphones using the Android operating system,” the Journal reported.

In recent months, Google has faced ongoing investigations in South Korea, which have primarily focused on allegations of the collection of private information.

The latest allegation reportedly zeroes in on the Google search engine on Android-based phones claiming the Internet company is “restricting local mobile-service-providers and Android smartphone manufacturers from preloading some search portals on smartphones,” the Journal reported. 

A spokesperson for NHN told the Journal that the restriction does not allow for fair trade among other search engines.

“It does not allow fair competition among search engines if Android-based smartphone users come across Google Search whenever they touch the search engine icon, whether they want it or not,” the spokesperson said.

The Journal said that Google declined to confirm the raid but said it would cooperate with the investigation.

Earlier this year, NHN, owner of Korea’s most popular search engine Naver, and Daum Communications filed a complaint with the KFTC, accusing Google of exerting pressure on smartphone producers to block the preloading of rival services on their handhelds.

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Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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